Rights & Confidentiality
Social scientists have a deep and genuine commitment to preserve the anonymity of the subjects whom they study in the course of their research. Most often applied to individuals who consent to be interviewed in surveys, this commitment extends also to groups, organisations, and entities whose information is recorded in administrative and other kinds of records. Archives place a high priority on preserving the confidentiality of respondent data and review all data collections they receive to ensure that confidentiality is protected in the public-use datasets released.
It is particularly crucial for data collectors and depositors to ensure that all necessary copyright permissions have been cleared prior to deposit and that ownership of the materials has been established. This is of particular importance if the data have been created from a variety of sources or if the research has been funded by a number of organisations. In these cases permission to deposit and disseminate the materials must be sought from all interested parties and a covering letter confirming agreement should accompany the materials when deposited. [more...]
In addition, data collectors and depositors should consider the legal and ethical framework within which empirical research operates throughout Europe and how its activities are impeded or assisted by this framework. These data protection issues are particularly complex, and the differing levels of implementation of the European Data Directive of 1995 in the individual European states means that data depositors should consult their local archive for the most relevant information. [more...]
Yet another particularly important aspect for consideration in the early stages of a research project involving the collection and use of quantitative and qualitative data is that of respondent confidentiality and other aspects of ethical research practice. Because this will ultimately affect the data's quality, reliability and usability, this is an area that should be considered before and during the collection phase of any project. [more...]
In an age of more frequent sharing of data between countries and national institutions, the data subjects must be assured that the information they provide is handled with the same care by every analyst involved. Breaching ethical standards can sometimes undermine the entire research process. The vast majority of existing codes of ethics are national rather than international and discipline-specific rather than cross-disciplinary. A list of exemplary codes of ethics and ethical research provides examples of the ways in which the principles have been selected and implemented. [more...]